Happy Fourth, everyone. St. Louis in the house.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first web-slinger adventure to take place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This means that Captain America and Iron Man show up, which will excite comic-book fans but made me wish more and more that these superheroes could just do their own thing in their own movies. (Is this the reason why I've become such a fan of the practically standalone Guardians of the Galaxy films?) Regardless, this is a fun, engaging reboot highlighted by a very good Michael Keaton as the bad guy. You can read my review over at Screen International.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Will and I tackled six movies on the most recent podcast. I talked about The Big Sick and The Beguiled. We both reviewed Transformers: The Last Knight and Baby Driver. We sorted out our personal feelings to discuss Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press. And, in our Reboot section, we looked back at Inside Moves. An epic episode, and you can hear it all below.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Let me start by mentioning this:
You're not gonna get a better pull quote than @TimGrierson's tonight: "that movie makes you want to put your junk in a microwave."— Todd Gilchrist (@mtgilchrist) June 27, 2017
Yup, I said it, and I was referring to Despicable Me 3, which I also told Todd was like an advertisement for birth control. I'm not opposed to kids' films, but when they're this witless, they're a pox. My review is up at Screen International.
Monday, June 26, 2017
I think I've made peace with the fact that Edgar Wright is a filmmaker for other people. Baby Driver, like many of his movies, is very entertaining and innovative. But there's nothing underneath the whiz-bang exterior. I reviewed the film for Screen International.
Errol Morris remains one of our finest filmmakers. Even in a minor key, he rules. The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography is about his good friend, and the affection is obvious from the first frame. But this is also a smart, wise documentary about the impermanence of everything. I reviewed the film for Paste.
Friday, June 23, 2017
'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': Transformers, 'The Bad Batch,' Romantic Comedies and 'The Beguiled'
Always fun to be on Press Play. This week, I guest alongside Alicia Malone, and we review Transformers: The Last Knight, The Bad Batch, The Beguiled, The Big Sick and Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press. We had fun, fun, fun ... you can hear the whole thing here.
A few weeks ago, my MEL editors were putting together ideas for an ambitious wedding-themed week of pieces. That's when they asked me, "We really, really want you to do an oral history of Wedding Crashers. What do you think?"
I went for it. Today, you see the results of that work. I spoke to several people involved in the 2005 comedy sensation to hear their behind-the-scenes stories. It was very fun. And I hope you enjoy.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
I feel the same way about The Big Sick now as I did when I first saw it at Sundance: It's immensely charming and very good, but it's not quite amazing. Still, the movie offers many, many pleasures, and I talk about them in my review at Paste.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
As you may have heard, Daniel Day-Lewis has said he's retiring. I'm not sure I entirely buy that, but if it's true, I wanted to pay tribute to our finest actor. Rolling Stone gave me the space to praise him -- and, specifically, to debunk this idea that he's just this grim, obsessive Method actor. Beyond being a brilliant performer, he made acting look like a total blast. You can read my piece here.
That's how I felt too, Mark.
I remain absolutely dazzled by Michael Bay's next-level aesthetic. Like it or not, nobody makes action sequences with such frenetic expertise as he does. But when the movie's this junky, well, who cares? I reviewed Transformers: The Last Knight for Screen International.
Many new movies to discuss on this week's episode. We split on Cars 3. We agree on All Eyez on Me. We agree about Rough Night. And I talk to Will about my experience of watching The Book of Henry. A lot of fun, and it's all right here.
Friday, June 16, 2017
The Showtime documentary Becoming Cary Grant examines the hidden demons underneath the smooth, polished glamour of the beloved Hollywood legend. It got me thinking about the public's desire to build up celebrities and then convince ourselves that they're not that great. Grant may be our most visible example of that phenomenon. My piece is up at MEL.
Sampling Grant Green's "Luanna's Theme," this standout track from Digable Planets' second album, Blowout Comb, has popped into my brain every once in a while ever since my then-roommate bought the record back in 1994. That's right, baby.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
It's been far too long since I've guested on What the Flick?! I had a blast with Alonso, Christy and Ben, and we dig into Cars 3 (ugh), Rough Night (eh) and It Comes at Night (great). Check out the videos below.
What a stunning disappointment All Eyez on Me is. A biopic of Tupac Shakur's short, tragic life, the film is long and uninspired, detailing the rapper's story without much flair or insight. Demetrius Shipp Jr. looks a lot Tupac, but the movie has no sense of his brilliance. I reviewed All Eyez on Me for Paste.
That's the case I make over at Paste, going into detail about precisely why Cars 3 makes me so sad. Is it a terrible movie? No. But it's a lazy one ... and for a studio this great, that's just as unforgivable. You can read my piece here.
For Father's Day, MEL is having its contributors write about their dads and drinking. This required me to do something I've never done, which is talk to my dad about alcohol. He doesn't drink ... at all. Literally, he's never had a drink. Am I a chip off the old block? I talk about that in my MEL essay.
The Book of Henry premiered last night at L.A. Film Festival. The movie, from Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, has been carrying bad buzz for a while, and now that I've seen it ... well, I can see why. A bad movie by any measurement, it's also a fairly audacious one, about a single mom (Naomi Watts) who's raising two kids, one of whom is a genius. Few films try to combine the tearjerker and the Hitchcockian thriller: The Book of Henry gets points for being bold, I suppose. But as I explain in my Screen International review, this movie is still a mess.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Digging Into 'The Mummy,' 'It Comes at Night' and 'Shadow of a Doubt'
For whatever reason, Will and I haven't had any major disagreements on the podcast in a while. (Our last epic one was Rogue One.) But we don't see eye-to-eye at all on It Comes at Night. We talk about it -- and we (kinda, sorta) defend The Mummy. And then, in our Reboot segment, we take a look back at Shadow of a Doubt. You can hear the whole thing here.
Monday, June 12, 2017
If I may, a brief timeline of my feelings about the Cars movies...
2006: "Hey, Cars, isn't amazing, but it's good, OK? Lay off it!"
2011: "Oh, god, Cars 2 was terrible. What were they thinking?"
2017: "Was the first Cars any good? I don't honestly remember anymore."
Cars 3 is less irritating than its predecessor, but it's far more boring, which probably makes it worse. I reviewed the film for Screen International.
Friday, June 09, 2017
Thursday, June 08, 2017
I have issues with Band Aid, the new movie written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones (who also stars), but what I responded to was its depiction of marriage. Specifically, I think it's dead-on about the importance of arguing. Not that you have to argue, but that you need to figure out how to do it well. I wrote about that for MEL.
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
I'm actually less brutal to The Mummy than a lot of my colleagues are. It's not a good film, but it is fascinating in a way -- especially in what it says about the modern blockbuster, where a star like Tom Cruise means a heck of a lot less than the maintenance of a possible franchise. My review is up at Paste.
Monday, June 05, 2017
This week's episode features only one new review, but it's a big one. We go long on Wonder Woman. Then, in our Reboot segment, we discuss The English Patient (don't tell Elaine) and In Bruges. So, yup, it's a Ralph Fiennes double feature. Hear the whole thing down below.
Hulu has a new documentary out called Dumb. It's a celebration of Big Brother, a rude-and-crude skateboard magazine that lived to annoy conservatives and parents in the 1990s. Big Brother's greatest claim to fame, though, was the franchise it helped inspire, the brilliant (and also rude-and-crude) Jackass. I wrote about the film for MEL.
For Rolling Stone, I reflect on Wonder Woman's most provocative point: Diana isn't just battling bad guys but a bad society. Sexism runs rampant in the world of this movie -- and our modern-day world -- but Wonder Woman never lets it stop her. You can read my essay here.
Trey Edward Shults, the writer-director of Krisha, returns with It Comes at Night, which I consider a far superior film. It stars Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo as a married couple that has survived an unnamed global plague. Soon, they're visited by Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough, a married couple seeking shelter. Thus begins a very tense chamber drama that gets more unsettling as it goes along. Great stuff, as I explain in my Screen International review.
Saturday, June 03, 2017
Always have a great time on KCRW. Yesterday, my pal Amy Nicholson and I were on Press Play to discuss two very different superhero movies. And then we went long on Band Aid, a film that I have very mixed feelings about. You can hear the whole thing here.
Friday, June 02, 2017
For MEL, I wrote about Chris Pine, who plays the damsel-in-distress in Wonder Woman. It's a fun gender-switch for a role that's usually portrayed by women. You can read my piece here.
While I was at Cannes, I listened to In Mind a decent amount while writing reviews. I'm of two minds when it comes to Real Estate. On the one hand, they're exceedingly pleasant indie-rock: light, refreshing, ephemeral. On the other, they're almost too much aural wallpaper. Nonetheless, a track like "Stained Glass" is a good way to spend four minutes of your life.